>> the administration would like to be able to withdraw earlier the politics, they withdraw earlier. on the other hand, everything that happens in afghanistan says it is going to be a mess when you withdraw. and you need to preserve some sense of we did achieve our goal. so i suspect that they're going to want to stay as long as they can through 2014 and the big question will be how many troops do we keep after? 20,000? probably. 30,000 maybe. >> eliot: let me challenge you on one point. once we're out will anybody care? will the media pay attention? even if you accept as a premise it will become worse. once we're out, we never should are gone in. >> the issue is if you want to carry out the counterterrorism policy whose goal is, even if the taliban comes back in, to keep out al-qaeda and people who are of harm to us, not to afghanistan, you need those troops there. >> eliot: fair point. weekly columnist for policy, james traub. approaching the edge of the fiscal cliff who's bluffing?